Keep it MBAchic: what to wear to an MBA interview

keep it MBAchic: what to wear to an MBA interview

It’s that time of year… MBA interview invitations are going out and you need to prepare for that discussion. What to wear to an MBA interview? Why does it even matter? Well, research out there tells us that when meeting new people (like an interviewer for your dream MBA program), only 7% of the impact you make is from what you say. 38% is from the quality of our voice, grammar and overall confidence, and a whopping 55% comes from the way we dress, act, and walk through the door.

Watch our IG stories on the topic in this IGTV video

While the MBA interview is not the single-most important part of your application, its certainly a piece of the puzzle that has an impact. When 65% of hiring managers say clothes worn during an interview could be the deciding factor between two candidates, we aren’t taking any chances. Keep reading for examples and pointers to help you nail that interview look, so you can bring the style and substance that showcases the best you on interview day.
(Thanks to our friends at @Argent for sharing these stats by Classes and Careers over on IG!.

Keep it MBAchic: what to wear to an MBA interview
skirt suit for MBA interview

Wear a classic dark suit (check out Saule’s guest post on finding the classic suit), like this one from Burberry. Make sure the skirt hits the knee (this one could even be an inch longer), and you would do well to swap out the top for a crisp button down. The clean lines, simple hair and minimal jewelry make this a classic look. I can’t tell if those are platform heels, but if they are, nix them in favor of a regular pump. General rule is to stay away from trends and focus on timeless, elegant looks that convey polish, professionalism, and that you’re a woman with business. to. handle.

Also, you can read the post that really kicked off MBAchic back in 2011 (more on that, later), where we shared what to wear to a finance/banking/accounting interview. A lot of pointers there will remain the same (so young, I was… as I always say, older, first-gen MBAchic posts are slightly cringey for me to read these days, but…. here’s to growth)

pant suit for MBA interview

Pant suits are certainly more acceptable or interviews as we keep it moving. Stick to dark colors and make sure you get it tailored or altered to a single pair of shoes (hem hits perfectly here, although those shoes have way too much happening on them – leave the studs at home and opt for a classic pump in the same height).

We’ve gotten a few questions about hair but haven’t built out a full article on it, but key is to keep it simple and away from your face. If it feels as thought it could fall at any point, tie or lightly pin it back before you get into the room. Touching your hair during an interview is NOT okay (and distracts the interviewer, taking them out of whatever fantastic answer you’re giving), so don’t put yourself in that position. Keep it simple and attack with product where needed.

Keep it MBAchic: what to wear to an MBA interview
Classic skirt suit for an interview. Photo / look by Cheslie Kryst (White Collar Glam)
Classic skirt suit for an interview. Photo / look by Cheslie Kryst (White Collar Glam)

When in doubt, a classic black skirt suit is. the. move. Cheslie Kryst does a great job styling this professional interview look. Also love the accessories here. Not boring, but not drawing attention away from the interview subject, who is focused on getting into her dream MBA (in her case, JD/MBA) program.

Have we discussed pantyhose yet? If you clicked the link to the first Keep it MBAchic piece from 2011 which talked about finance/accounting interview wear, you might have read about it. Default to nude pantyhose with your skirt suit. It is what it is, and times are changing luckily but that’s still the move. Invest in something fancy like Wolford or even drugstore pantyhose will work just fine (I’ve ripped hose on the corner of my desk and dashed downstairs to Duane Reade for a replacement enough times to tell you that drugstore pantyhose really is the unsung hero; eventually I just kept a box or two in my desk at all times).

dress suit for MBA interview, Kate Middleton

A great rule of thumb when selecting workwear or interview wear: would a royal wear this to a public engagement? If so, you’re likely looking at something that is appropriate for the office or an interview. Love this monochromatic dress suit look.

You certainly can rock a dress and blazer (in a less formal interview environment), but be sure that the dress fits, isn’t tight, and that your hair is sleek, polished and nowhere near distracting. The gold buttons add interest but I’d be sure the look is grounded with classic accessories (I’d also probably wear a relatively lower heel with this look).

Keep it MBAchic: what to wear to an MBA interview
Classic skirt suit for an interview. Photo / look by Mary Orton (Memorandum)
Classic skirt suit for an interview. Photo / look by Mary Orton (Memorandum)

Another classic skirt suit (a skirt suit is the number one choice, here, if that was not clear). This look by Mary Orton is chic and elegant and love how that white button-down pops against the dark suit. I’d be sure that it’s not too form-fitting, and that you rock a bag like this one: big enough to hold a resume or portfolio (or laptop).

PSA: Always have this look ready to go in your wardrobe. If you’re not regularly wearing it (say you’re not interviewing, and your office is not formal enough for you to wear suits), be sure to periodically take it out and try it on, make sure it still fits and dry clean it ahead of any interviews. If you ever wear the blazer or skirt separately, make sure you dry clean both pieces together to ensure the colors match every time you do wear them.

pant suit for MBA interview

This polished pant suit is perfect, lines are clean, and the entire thing fits without being too slim. Love the hair but would probably tie it back or brush it back a bit more and attack with product to make sure it stays put.

We haven’t discussed grooming in general, but keep things simple – a clear or nude, short manicure is on point, and makeup should be pretty simple. That doesn’t mean you can’t wear lipstick, but save the smoky eye for the bschool mixers and events once you get to campus. If you’re going to wear perfume, keep it super light – the scent should be clean, fresh, and very subtle. We’ll expand more on that in the future, but if you’re in doubt, skip it entirely.

Keep it MBAchic: what to wear to an MBA interview
Classic men's suit for an MBA interview
Classic men’s suit for an MBA interview

Since we’ve been asked in the past, and because MBA interviews are so important, we are sharing some MBA interview attire that works for our male audience, to help you prep for this important event.

Stick to dark suits like this one from Burberry, and make sure you wear a crisp button down that closes completely, with a tie. Always default to this option, even if you’re not someone who normally wears a suit. Let your interviewer take the lead – if they mention anything about attire (like, “no need to wear a tie”), default to a suit, and don’t wear a tie.

Keep shoes and lines clean and simple, and get your tailor to make any adjustments well in advance. This is a great look, but that tie could be a bit wider – stay away from trends like skinny ties or super slim cuts.

Classic men's suit for an MBA interview
Classic men’s suit for an MBA interview

Another classic suit option. It fits well, makes him look confident and capable, and like the pop of periwinkle / blue in the tie. I’d lose the vest but otherwise this look is spot-on.

As far as grooming is concerned, cleanliness and neatness is key: trim your nails (just get a manicure, really), make sure you’re clean-shaven, and if you’re going to wear cologne, a small dab of it is okay, just make sure it’s not entering the room before you do (keep it subtle).

Keep it MBAchic: what to wear to an MBA interview
Keep it MBAchic: what to wear to an MBA interview

What did you wear to your MBA interview? Also, what questions did they ask you?

Tag us in your #OOTD shots (tag #keepitMBAchic & @MBAchicblog on Instagram), or send them to us as attachments in the IG DMs. If you’re a fashion blogger, consider writing your own Keep it MBAchic piece! Any questions, shoot over a note, and be sure to visit our Pinterest page for daily inspo.

Pictures from Pinterest unless otherwise stated

Related Articles